Tips for the Student Athlete – Part 2
Strategies for Success
Being a student athlete is hard. Really hard. Just everything about it...really hard, but it can also be one of the best, most rewarding experiences you can have as an athlete. In college, whether you are playing DI, II or III, both athletics and academics are much more challenging than in high school. You will have significantly less free time. In many cases, depending on your class and practice schedule, you may not be able to get more than six hours of sleep on a given weeknight for a semester. Here are some simple strategies (in no particular order, as they are all equally important) that will teach you good work ethics that will give you a running start on having a successful college career. They will also serve you later on job interviews and you in your work.
Remember, Student comes before Athlete. Always! Without a good GPA, you can’t play. So, my number one tip – study! Your days are going to filled. Practice. Team Meetings. Chalk Talk. Team Workouts. Games. Classes. Everything is going to be competing for your time. Schedule Study Time. Treat study time, the same as you treat classes, workouts, practices, games, and other team activities. Make it a priority. Stick to the schedule. I cannot emphasize this enough!
Plan on spending a minimum of one hour of study time for each hour of course credit per week. That means a three-credit course should have about three hours devoted to homework and studying. How do you fit this into your schedule? Use travel time on the bus to and from games. Study between classes if you have significant time in between. To ensure success, take advantage of tutors for extra help. Utilize your professor’s office hours if you don't understand something. Ask questions in class. Put as much effort into your academics as you do your sport.
There is a good chance you will be missing at least some classes while you are on the road with your team. Develop a plan with your professors for this. Talk to them early in the semester – before this happens – to develop a plan. How and when will you notify him that you will be missing class? How will you make up missed work? How can you access missed notes? When will you make up tests? Once you develop this plan, stick to it. Be on time to class. Respect your professors – remember your primary goal is, and should be, to get an education!
Tip number two: Work hard at your sport. Be on time to practices, the gym, team meeting, games. Better yet – be 15 minutes early. Be prepared to play. Do not give your coach a reason to bench you. Work hard, both mentally and physically. Respect your coach. You might not agree with his strategy, but he is the coach.
Respect your team and your teammates. You will be spending the majority of your time in college with your teammates. Some of them will become your best friends. You will have a connection to them like no other, but that doesn't necessarily mean that all of you will be friends, or that you all will agree on everything. Don't argue over petty differences. Learn to come together to overcome any differences. Learn to work as a team. Don't assign blame for the game outcome. Remember - you win or lose as a team!
Tip number three: Respect yourself. Eat well. Good eating habits will fuel both your body and your brain. Do not go for the pizza and soda every day. See your team nutritionist and work out a diet that will keep you healthy throughout the year. Without proper nutrition, those long days of working out and paying attention in class and studying will wear your body down. Sleep is important. It is healing and restorative. Have friends outside of your teammates. Diversity is important and enriching. Don't spend what little free time you have endlessly exploring Instagram and watching Netflix. You will have plenty of time later for that, but you only have one chance to be a student athlete. Avoid the party mentality. Nothing will bring you down and possibly ruin your college career like drugs and alcohol. You are here for a purpose. To get an education and to play the sport that you love. Remember - it is a privilege that very few get to experience. Enjoy it and make the most of it!